Something interesting is happening… it’s not the first time that I’ve experienced this phenomenon of having some fascination or inspiration from my past circle around and make its way into relevant, “in the now” creative endeavors and projects. Last Summer, when I started the design and development of Onycha, it was the coming to fruition of a perfume that I began contemplating way back in 1993 when I first read about it in some esoteric book on Kabbalah and aromatics. (I was crazy interested in Kabbalah back then, before it became trendy, but that’s a story for another day). I had just graduated from Art School and had begun my first perfumery with Sarah Horowitz-Tran (Gaia Perfumers – since we were both earth signs – known to everyone else as Essense on Newbury Street), and I was into reading anything that I could get my hands on about aromatics, essential oils, wacky New Age whatnot, Aromatherapy, Perfumery, Incense… I mean ANYTHING that had any info to be had about fragrance, I was into it. So, this Kabbalah ‘perfume’ book was (and is) dog-eared all over the place. The only thing that has stayed with me and commanded my imagination long-term was Onycha.
First off, I was just blown away at how the word LOOKED and how do you say it anyway? In the days before the internet you’d either have to screw it up, make it up, or find a scholar who could tell you for sure. Now, you can just go online to see (and hear) it. Amazing. I also loved how the book spoke about some rare mollusc from the Sea of Galilee being used as an aromatic in…perfume? WHAT???? Hold on, I love the ocean and sea air and Calvin Klein’s now infamous Escape had just launched to great success, but seashells? Um, that sounded fishy to me (bad pun intended). I really had to push the boundaries of what I thought perfume must have been in the ancient world, and what it could be, to imagine it. ( I still couldn’t … which is part of why it stuck with me. I really wanted to create a fantasy that fit how I was trying to imagine it ).
Yet another piece to this story is that during 1992 – 1994 I was painting lots of still life images with seashells. Kind of like ‘family’ units. I was into Sacred Geometry and the spiral was a big influence. Ammonites, and seashells from the beaches of Cape Cod, found their way into my visual art and was moving, oddly, into my perfumery art. At that time, there were WAY fewer materials to work with; especially as an indie perfumer. The artisan / indie perfumery movement hadn’t really begun yet (that was later in the nineties) and there were essential oils, some absolutes, and perfume compounds to work with, if you were small-scale. Now, there are more wonderful boutique distillers, distributors, and specialty molecule purveyors than you can imagine and it’s an INCREDIBLE GALAXY of nuanced ‘colors’ and textures to create olfactory art with. It took over twenty years of ruminating around the idea (and waiting for the right materials to arrive) for “Onycha” to come.
Ok, I’m going to end there…with more to come of course. Soooooon. Have a great rest of your weekend ❤